Since becoming a full-time professional cartoonist six months after he graduated in 1982, Martin’s work has appeared regularly across the gamut of UK newspapers and magazines, from The Guardian, via Time Out, Morning Star and The Erotic Review, to The Times and Spectator, aswell as The Independent on Sunday, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Index on Censorship, Tribune, The Racing Post, New Humanist, The Modern Review, The Sunday Correspondent, The Irish Times, The European, The New European, Today, Sunday Today, The New Statesman, The Observer and, indeed, almost everywhere you can think of apart from The Sun and Private Eye.
He has also authored, illustrated or contributed in one way or another to 60 books, most notably Scenes From The Lives of the Great Socialists (1983), Lower Than Vermin: An Anatomy of Thatcher’s Britain (1986), The Nodland Express (with Anna Clarke, 1994), Fuck: The Human Odyssey (2007), The Dog Allusion: Gods, Pets and How to be Human (2008), four volumes of The Limerickiad (2011-2016) and Pastrami Faced Racist & Other Verse (2018). His memoir Stuff was longlisted for the 2006 Samuel Johnson prize, and over the past 30 years he’s produced a series of comic book adaptations, including T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land (1990), The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1996), Gulliver’s Travels (2011) and The Communist Manifesto (2018). He’s also illustrated books by Will Self, journalist John Sweeney, former MP Bob Marshall-Andrews and Andrew Gimson, deputy editor of the Conservative Home website.
In 2001 Rowson was appointed Cartoonist Laureate for London by Mayor Ken Livingstone, in return for one pint of London Pride bitter per annum (still six years in arrears). He’s also chairman of the British Cartoonists’ Association, has served three times as a vice-president of the Zoological Society of London, is a former trustee of the British Humanist Association and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and holds an honorary fellowship from Goldsmith’s College and an honorary doctorate from the University of Westminster. In the late 1990s he was resident Cult Books Expert on Mark Radcliffe’s late night Radio 1 show, and his many broadcasts include presenting (and illustrating) a 2005 BBC4 documentary about Ronald Searle and presenting “Life Drawing”, a series of 15 minute “sittings” with interviewees ranging from Ralph Steadman to George Osborne, on Radio 4 in 2017. He also gives frequent talks and recitations, the poet Linton Kwesi Johnson describing one such gig Rowson did at The Laugharne Weekend Literary Festival as “the dog’s bollocks”.
In a full-page editorial in 2017, in response to one of his Guardian cartoons, The Daily Mail denounced him and his work as “disgusting, deranged… sick and offensive.”
MARTIN ROWSON ONLINE